He stands before his audience who is ready and waiting. He has prepared himself and promises to provide a memorable and intriguing experience in hopes that they will appreciate and learn from his words. Only at the end of his performance will he learn of their receptiveness. Whether it is on the theatre stage or in the classroom, Hodges University Professor Dr. Wesley Boozer strives to deliver an inspiring and thought-provoking performance every time.
A professor of English in the School of Liberal Studies, Boozer admits, “Transitioning from being an actor to serving as a teacher was easy. The class is a four hour show.” Growing up in Dover, Delaware, Boozer acted in community theatre as a child. His passion for singing, dancing and performing led him to Wagner College in New York where he earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre.
During his time in New York, Boozer performed in productions at Carnegie Hall, on Broadway at Town Hall and off-Broadway with the York Theatre Company. Some of his productions included “On the Town,” “Anything Goes,” “Me & My Girl,” “Cabaret,” “Joan Rivers and her Funny Friends” and “A Chorus Line.”
“As a performer in New York, you’re living a ‘gypsy’ lifestyle. You’re constantly going from audition to audition, uncertain as to how long you’ll be working in a professional capacity,” he said. “In your 20s, that’s exciting; however, as you get older, you want more stability, so I knew graduate school was in my future.”
Guided by his parents, both of whom possess doctoral degrees in education, Boozer pursued a master’s in education at Wesley College in his hometown of Dover. Pursuing his interests in history, he taught social studies at various high schools in Delaware for three years. “It’s funny because the English component happened by accident. A teacher was on sabbatical and they needed someone to teach English, so the school’s administrators asked if I would do it, and they would allow me to earn my certification at the same time,” he said.
Through his experience, he discovered a true joy in teaching English, saying, “Writing is such an important skill. There are not many professions out there where writing isn’t important.” Appreciating his time in the classroom, Boozer chose to further his education by pursuing a Ph.D. in English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 2005, while working on his dissertation, he felt the need to get back into the classroom and began looking for positions in higher education, which ultimately led him to Hodges.
“We have such a diverse student population at Hodges. As professors, we have to play to each student individually, and with my students, they can expect someone who is patient, creative and receptive to all situations,” he added.
Serving as faculty editor of “The Sextant,” Hodges’ previous literary magazine, he hopes to revamp the publication and bring it back in a new way by focusing on Hodges’ veteran students, saying, “Writing is a way to express thoughts and emotions, and is a great therapy tool. While it may not be called ‘The Sextant,’ I want to get a new version off the ground and provide an outlet for our veteran students to contribute their poetry, prose, photography and art.”
Exploring new ways to teach writing, Boozer understands that for many students, writing can be a challenge, and for those who have been out of school for many years, the notion of writing a paper can be daunting. Witnessing the self-doubt that often plagues some of his students, he understands the feeling all too well, saying, “As a performer, I was always doubting myself, so when my students come to me and tell me that writing isn’t their strong suite, I tell them ‘don’t worry, that’s why we’re here.’”
By recognizing the lack of confidence in his students, he emphasizes the need to be positive. “Self-doubt is chronic and we are our own worst critics. Not just for students, but for anyone who wants to excel and succeed, stop tearing yourself down and see the possibilities. At Hodges, so many opportunities exist and professors are here to help navigate the challenges along the way,” he emphasized.
In the 11 years since he joined Hodges’ faculty, Boozer admits that after each class, he feels renewed and excited to be teaching. “The classroom is truly my Zen place – I feel as if I’m really contributing something, and the approbation I receive from my students is one of the many blessings of teaching,” he said. “Even better than the cheers and bravos in a theatre.”